FRIDAY, NOV. 30: Bermuda is not at all unique in that voters normally treat political parties like sports clubs.  As with sports clubs we tend to support our political parties even when they’re performing at their worst. If a player commits a foul, our biggest issue seems to be with whether or not they got away with the foul.  We tend to commit to teams for life, and we see all others who don’t support our team as an enemy. 

That might be fine for sports, but that’s entertainment. It’s entirely inappropriate for politics, because the Government that wins an election is not the government of only those who voted for it. MPs’ high salaries are funded by us all, and their costly errors are paid for by our taxes.  When an MP commits a foul, that foul is actually committed against all of us.  The elected Government should therefore govern fairly for all voters whether they voted for them or not.

We should therefore treat political parties more like car mechanics, because politicians are elected and paid highly to fix things.  Imagine for example that you took your car to a mechanic three times for trouble due to starting.  The first time the mechanic advises that they weren’t able to figure out what the problem is, but installed new brakes, and gave you an oil change. The second time they tell you that the car is fixed, because the muffler had to be replaced. The third time you take it back, and they tell you that they installed a new ignition.

Still, the next morning your car is dead, and you decide to call another mechanic for assistance.  They pop the hood and tell you within minutes that the battery is dead. The battery gets replaced and you return to the first mechanic to submit a complaint.  What if  the mechanic’s response isn’t apologetic, or even embarrassment?  No effort to compensate you for missing something so obvious is made.  Instead, the mechanic starts to get verbally abusive with you for taking your car to someone else.  Now, how would you feel if the mechanic knew that the problem was the battery all along?  Would you still go back to them?

Doesn’t this sound somewhat familiar?  It does to me.  It sounds a whole lot like the PLP and their manipulative use of “family”.   The term’s use might actually be more amusing than the PLP’s puppets for the simple fact that it is so laughably insincere.  “Family”, you say?  Hmm...  Just take a look at public education.  If we were “family”, then the PLP’s 14 year track record on public education would be one that builds children up instead of holding children back.  If we were “family”, they wouldn’t mislead us on graduation rates and examination results.  “Family” doesn’t do that.  Or at least not a family that any of us should want to be a part of.

Dysfunctional family

So what happens when we propose leaving that dysfunctional family?  You get a combination of denial and abuse.  Who is this guy, and what’s he up to?  Well, she’s probably angry about not getting something from the PLP...  He’s part of the combined opposition.  They’re sell-outs, Uncle Toms, house niggers, etc.  She’s one of those secret troops, working on the secret plan to carry out the secret agenda. 

Oh, you want us to ignore the real issues — got it!  When Premier Cox endorsed Leroy Bean this summer, she suggested that questions about corruption were, “because we have a black government.” She would not be drawn then on why she is endorsing a candidate who she previously removed from the BLDC, and she would not be drawn now on why she is supporting Derrick Burgess after he failed to remove Bean or support her call that the $160,000 in consultancy fees be returned. Now compare Cox’s statement on race to Craig Cannonier’s 2011 Throne Speech comment:

“Yet I refuse to use race as a tool to manipulate black people and exploit their fears. It is not enough to simply use race for talk without delivering justice. Hatred of any person serves no constructive purpose. Yet it is completely constructive to oppose injustice in all areas of our society, black and white.”

As with mechanics, it is in our best interest that we hold politicians accountable for failing to do their job.  When we don’t, we fail to give them an incentive to govern better.

The PLP’s primary tactic has been to instil fear and claim that the OBA is the same old UBP. But if everything UBP is such a bad thing, then why is the PLP so accepting of UBP MPs who have crossed the floor? And why has the PLP adopted the UBP’s approach to major issues like public education? Clearly the OBA isn’t the UBP of yesterday, and the PLP of today clearly isn’t the PLP of 1998. Both parties are significantly different in word and deed.  The only way to keep them in line is to vote them out when they’ve failed.

It’s not merely time for change. It’s time for integrity and accountability. Vote OBA.

• Feedback: bryanttrew@mac.com